Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes hoists his bat aloft in triumph after a record-breaking century on day four of the first test against New Zealand at Lord's. Getty Images

Alastair Cook and Ben Stokes were in superb form against New Zealand as England fought valiantly on a thrilling day four to build a lead of 295.

The much-maligned captain produced a knock of outstanding perseverance and quality to reach 153 not out, while Durham all-rounder Stokes smashed a 92-ball 101 for the fastest test century ever recorded at Lord's.

With the hosts returning to the crease at 74-2, the Black Caps looked to have achieved the perfect start when Ian Bell was dismissed with just the third delivery of the morning after being caught behind by Tom Latham off an early Tim Southee outswinger.

Joe Root was the next man up and he survived a review after being caught at square leg off Trent Boult when TV umpire Rod Tucker ruled that the ball had touched the ground first in a similar scenario to the 24-year-old's own attempted dismissal of BJ Watling yesterday.

An lbw reprieve came soon after when a delivery from Southee was deemed to be missing leg stump.

Cook continued to dig in to bring up his half century from 122 balls, meanwhile, and together with Root he displayed staunch resilience in the face of a previously formidable bowling attack that were beginning to run low on ingenuity.

In the final over before the respective teams broke for lunch, Boult was the next to challenge an lbw call on England's new vice-skipper but he was also left disappointed as an extensive and time-consuming series of replays confirmed the ball was too high and England left the pitch on 175-3 with a lead of 41.

Cook and Root combined for a fourth-wicket stand of 158 before the latter, who just missed out on a first-innings ton when he was caught by Latham on 98, was again denied when he hooked a Boult delivery to Chris Henry at square leg for 84.

There was to be no such silly errors from Cook, however, and he brought up his second successive century and a 27th overall for England in fine style to take his side's lead beyond 100.

While his batting was typically patient and measured, Stokes by contrast was simply electric and he produced 15 fours and three sixes on his way to a record-breaking score before finally being tamed for 101 by a catch from Ross Taylor at slip.

Jos Buttler added 14 before edging behind off Henry, but still Cook posed a threat and he moved past 150 alongside Moeen Ali to leave England on 429-6 at stumps and surely pondering a quick morning declaration.